In California, a Significant 'Rewrite' of the Virus?

Mysterious deaths of kids, infants, and adults going back to December suggest earlier infections
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2020 9:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Health officials, pathologists, and medical examiners are more closely looking at dozens of deaths in California, including those of infants and kids, and what they find "could dramatically rewrite the narrative of COVID-19" in the US, per the Los Angeles Times. A slew of deaths that took place months before the coronavirus was first detected—some reaching back to December—have spurred a "flood of requests" asking for preserved tissue samples from deceased patients to be examined for COVID-19 by the CDC, the only place to offer such a test. However, the push for this testing "remains hobbled by bureaucracy and testing limits," per the Times, with California restricted to sending over to the agency only between eight to 10 cases a week. Of special interest: mysterious deaths of infants and children as far back as late 2019, despite no child deaths yet tied to COVID-19 in the state.

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Researchers have since started gathering info showing a jump in hospitalizations for kids with COVID-19, or with symptoms suggesting Kawasaki disease. Initially, reports from China and California suggested kids didn't contract the virus that easily, but "the experience we've had on the East Coast and in Europe has been markedly different," says Dr. Roberta Lynn DeBiasi, head of the Children's National Hospital pediatric division in DC. The adult deaths now under scrutiny include nine cases in Orange County in which patients died from late December to March; those autopsies initially pinned the deaths to pneumonia, congested lungs, or blood clots. Maribeth Cortez, the mother of one of those patients, 39-year-old Jeremiah DeLap, who died in early January after a four-day illness, wants answers. "Everybody that knew him when they were talking to me after this all started would say, 'Do you think he died from [the virus]?'" she says. More here. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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